Monday, June 18, 2007

Take Me Out to the (Erp!) Ballgame

A few weeks back, The Wall Street Journal* reported on a marketing program that the Los Angeles Dodgers have put into play. Although the Dodgers are one major league baseball's attendance leaders (trailing only the Yankees), they do have some not-very-good bleacher seats that they don't always sell out.

What to do, what to do...

Well, the plan that Dodger marketing cooked up is a raising the ticket price and including all-you-can-eat, with special all-you-can-eat concessions set up offering unlimited hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and sodas.

Well, I suppose if you're a 15 year old boy, the prospect of unlimited access to ballpark hot dogs is an incentive, but it really is hard to believe that there are all that many people who want to eat ballpark food in such quantity.

Not that I don't eat ballpark food...

Just the other night, I was at a lousy - and cold - Red Sox game, during which time I consumed a hot dog, a Diet Coke, and half a bag of Cracker Jack's (that I think was smaller than last year's boxes). If it had been a bit warmer, I also would have consumed a Sports Bar (a not very good, melt in your hands brick of flavorless ice cream covered in a thin coating of tasteless "chocolate"). [The appearance of the Sports Bar guy in the stands near us prompted one of the few smiles of the game. When he hollered "Sports Bars here!" (or, as it was rendered in Fenway-ese: Spoorts Bahs Hee-ye), a woman a few rows behind us hollered back, in perfect imitation of his accent, "61 degrees here." Which could have been even funnier if she's said "55 degrees here", which was more like it.]

Hot dog, etc. is all part of the ballpark experience, and I'm not going to turn up my nose at it. (I will confess that one time, in my prissy, goody-too-shoes childhood, I made Tommy McCullough, a friend of my brother Tom's who had come with us to a game at Fenway, toss a hot dog in the trash because it was Friday night. When I smugly reported my pious deed to my father he said, "Why'd you do that? It makes not sense to throw out a perfectly good hot dog.")

But all you can eat?

No thanks.

Apparently, however, it works, and the Dodgers are finding that there are plenty enough people who are enticed into the cheap seats by the big bennie of limitless greasy nachos. Even if all the free food made the sale a loss leader, there's still parking, souvenirs, and other food (like beer and candy) that's not included. But my guess is it's only a loss leader if you put the full retail value of the food consumed into the equation. I don't know what they charge at Dodger Stadium, but a hot dog is about $4 at Fenway, as is a soda, as are the Cracker Jacks, as is a Sports Bar. Across the boards, there's quite a markup going.

Anyway, as gagging as it sounds, this is head's up marketing on the Dodgers part, so a tip of the cap to them. (Fenway Park is smaller and they pretty much sell out every game, so I don't see this coming to Boston baseball anytime soon.  Unless they keep playing like they've been doing lately, a deadly combo of no pitching, no hitting, and errors.)

Too bad we never had this concept in B2B enterprise software Although I suppose that with the site license that a customer could scale into ("....even though you only have 3 users now, this will cover you if you scale to 3,000") we had our own little version of all you can eat going there...


*"Free Eats Sell Bad Ballpark Seats", Adam Thompson and Jon Weinbach, May 16, 2007.

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